The transmission of Alessandro Scarlatti’s works is bound up with issues of locality and identity, stemming from the composer’s ambiguous relationship with the musical traditions of Rome and Naples. The serenata Venere, Adone et Amore (ed. R. Halton, A-R Editions, 2009), presents a unique example of a work by Scarlatti in this genre composed for Naples, but substantially revised for Rome ten years later. The paper examines the complex relationships between the four extant sources of the serenata, based on the transmission of scribal errors and of Scarlatti’s notation style. The three sources in Roman hands are well known to Scarlatti scholars, while the other, presumed to be of Neapolitan provenance and part of a group of serenata manuscripts in the collection of the Abbey of Montecassino, is so far unidentified. Which of the copies is to be regarded as the ‘primary source’? This study reveals close connections between the Montecassino source (1696) and the 1706 revision, leading to the unexpected conclusion that both may derive from the (now lost) autograph. This work thus illustrates Scarlatti’s practice of reinforcing contacts between the Roman and Neapolitan branches of his musical activity through his copyists and patrons in both centres.
Identity and Locality in Early European Music, 1028-1740 p. 173-190